Anna Garvey MRCVS
(Anna agreed to be one of the speakers on our 'Companion Animal' panel (details on the 'Schedule' page). She has kindly supplied the following advice for the current times.)
Part 2 Behaviour
Some people may have noticed differences in their pets’ behaviour since social distancing measures began. It’s important to remember that they are just as sensitive to stress and change as humans, especially when it involves a shift in routine. Whereas your cat may previously have had all day to sleep and recharge, they may feel disrupted by the constant human presence in the house. Your dog may not enjoy the change in walk schedules, for instance, or may feel frustrated at you shutting yourself away in a home office. As animal behaviourist and researcher Mikel Delgado notes, “Keep in mind that our cats pick up on our stress and may be stressed themselves by the sudden change in routine. Do your best to keep their schedule stable, trying to feed, clean, and keep as much of their daily routine as predictable as possible.”
As humans it can be difficult to understand how our pets feel, but their stress is crucial for us to consider, and can sometimes have serious medical effects. Cats in particular are prone to stress-related diseases from even small changes at home, including “stress cystitis” which can become life-threatening. Below are some articles that give useful advice about about helping your cats transition to the new circumstances.
How to work from home with cats:
Making your home cat-friendly:
Games to play with cats:
Stress in cats: https://icatcare.org/advice/stress-in-cats/
Making meal times interesting for your cat: https://icatcare.org/feeding-cats-creatively/
Advice for kitten owners specifically: https://www.bva.co.uk/media/3420/advice-for-kitten-owners-for-bva-use.pdf
The next post will have suggestions for dogs and puppies.